The testimony of prosecution witnesses in the first week of the trial of Mayor Marion Barry paints a disturbing portrait: The District's mayor making a crack pipe, hiding crack in the cuff of his pants, even sitting on a toilet seat, apparently high on crack.

The accounts are by people the defense claims have a lot to gain by cooperating, "notorious drug dealers" dredged from the "lower recesses of humanity" to implicate Barry, in the words of R. Kenneth Mundy, the mayor's lead attorney.

Whether or not the jury chooses to believe them, they embellish a central charge in the case: Marion Barry did drugs. They also provide small details -- the pipe fashioned in haste out of a sherbet glass, for example -- that, until now, were untold.

The reaction of almost all of more than two dozen people interviewed Thursday in the District and on Main Street in Fairfax City was one of little surprise at the revelations in court. The reasons ranged from disbelief -- because the testimony was viewed as suspect -- to acceptance.

Some clearly were wrestling with the fact that the mayor stands accused; others were critical of the government's methods. Still others were convinced that the mayor was "guilty as hell," as one Fairfax man said.

"Sometimes I believe. Sometimes I don't," said Laura Smith, a 42-year-old woman sitting outside a laundry on Alabama Avenue near Stanton Road SE. "I believe the mayor was smoking drugs, you know, but I don't think the mayor was bringing his own pipe. The man knew he was being watched."

At the other extreme was Mike Nelson, 21. Nelson, Warren Houston, 22, and Jerome Philpott, 23, all from Southeast, were certain the mayor had a drug problem.

"I know how that drug can affect the mind," Nelson said. "People can go to any extent to get high. People will take that pen you're writing with, take a screen from a house, and use it to smoke."

All three accused Barry's main accuser, Charles Lewis, of tailoring the story to suit his purpose. "He be lying so damn much," Nelson said. "First he said he didn't do crack with the mayor, and then he said he did. Someone's paying him off."

"It shocks me," Philpott said, "because they should be charging Lewis with the same thing."

Outside Shoppers Food Warehouse on Main Street in Fairfax, there was some ambivalence toward the credibility of Lewis. While most of those interviewed did not appear familiar with the details of his testimony, they were not sure whether a convicted drug dealer who stands to benefit from his testimony is credible.

"Some of it is believable," said Lillian Sparks, of Fairfax, who recently retired after working 36 years in communications at the State Department. "Where there's smoke, there's probably fire. Now, I don't believe everything he said, because he's trying to protect himself. But some of it is certainly believable."

"I wouldn't want to be on the jury. I really wouldn't," said Mary Lou Lewis, also of Fairfax. "It's just hard. A drug dealer probably would want to bring down as many people with him as he could."

The different reactions of some whites and blacks interviewed illustrate how views of the Barry case continue to be affected by race.

In Fairfax, Beth Riddle, who is white, said she deliberately was not following the Barry trial. "Personally, I think he's guilty and should be out of office and I don't think {Charles} Lewis should get anything for testifying. I'm really kind of fed up with the whole thing."

In Southeast, Nelson, Philpott and Houston, all of whom are black, argued that the mayor was a target for investigation because of his race.

"I tell you," Nelson said, "if the mayor was white, they'd have swept that {expletive} thing under the rug. Look at all that money they spent to catch him with a little piece of rock."

Last week's court testimony received considerable media coverage, and the details that emerged were repeated over and over. The U.S. Attorney's Office, at one point, even displayed some of the evidence to the news media.

At the Knox Hill Senior Apartments, in the 2700 block of Jasper Street SE, residents followed the trial by watching the news on television in the community room. The complex, with well-tended gardens, was built several years ago. A sign outside proclaims: Delivering on a Commitment, Marion Barry Jr.

Inside is a message for the seniors from Barry. It reads: "I believe I should use my God-given talents to make a profound difference in the lives of my fellowman."

As is the case everywhere else, at Knox Hill there are differing opinions of the mayor and his trial. But Barry built their home, and the seniors' opinion of the mayor is tempered by this. In at least one case, there also is a conflict.

"He's the one that put us in this building," said Taft Green Sr. "He did a lot to help the poor in this city.

"But he let drugs and women bring him down," Green said. "Drugs and women."